The main opposition party on Zanzibar, the Civic United Front (CUF) has become embroiled in a power struggle, after Prof Ibrahim Lipumba announced he was reversing his resignation as party chair. On at least two separate occasions, the fight has turned physical, with punches thrown outside the High Court in December and earlier in the year at a party meeting.
In August 2016, a year after his resignation as party chair in the wake of the selection of Edward Lowassa as the UKAWA coalition’s presidential candidate, Prof Lipumba announced that he was returning and sought to be recognised again as party chair. He claimed the right to do so as his resignation had never been formally recognised by the party’s governing bodies. The party’s supreme governing council, however, voted unanimously against this move.
Prof Lipumba responded by requesting the Registrar of Political Parties to resolve the issue. The Registrar ruled in the professor’s favour, saying that he was still the official chair of the party.
Seif Sharif Hamad, the CUF Secretary General and the party’s candidate for the Zanzibar presidency on numerous occasions, leads the second faction, which largely consists of the party’s Zanzibari contingent.
In October, the struggle extended to include control of the party’s finances, with Seif warning banks of “imposters” who may try to open accounts in the party’s name, following claims that Lipumba’s supporters had tried to do so.
Meanwhile, the party has continued to appeal for international attention and support for their cause in relation to the 2015 Zanzibar elections. Seif visited the US, Canada and Europe to meet with various parties, democratic institutions and prominent personalities, and visited the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to claim that the party had compiled evidence of government abuse of democracy and human rights.
President Magufuli, on a visit to Pemba and Unguja islands in September 2nd, called on CUF to put an end to their complaints. “The next General Election in Zanzibar will be held in 2020. This is the truth and nothing will change it,” he said. “People need to move forward and not backwards. Thanks God you have a good leader, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, who has proved that he loves his people. It is unfortunate that some people are not happy with the prevailing peace and instead parade uncultured behaviour.”
Universal pension scheme launched
2016 saw the introduction of a universal pension scheme on the islands of Zanzibar. Under the scheme, all citizens aged 70 or above will receive Tsh 20,000 per month (approximately £6 at current exchange rates).
Amleset Tewodros, the HelpAge International Country Director for Tanzania, described this as welcome news. “It will help to reduce poverty and inequality among older people on the island, providing a small but stable income for many who are extremely poor,” she said.
Research has shown that the majority of older people have never been in the formal labour market and therefore do not receive a pension from the Zanzibar Social Security Fund.